Social intervention dynamics in the implementation process of corporate sustainability: a comparison of theory and practice
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In the implementation process of Corporate Sustainability (CS), physical and social dynamics play an important role. Scientific research however tends to focus on optimizing physical dynamics in the CS implementation process, discarding the influence of the created and affected social dynamics. The research conducted therefore focusses on optimizing social dynamics in the CS implementation process. Two literature analyses were carried out, analysing to what extent the propositions made by scientists to optimize social intervention dynamics in the CS implementation process correspond with literature written by successful CS change agents from the industry and what lessons can be drawn from this comparison. The results were presented to five other successful CS change agents from the industry to reflect upon. It is found that firstly, a leader centred approach seems to be most successful when initiating the corporate cultural change necessary to optimize the social dynamics within the company. Leaders can mould a corporate culture for it to help optimize the social intervention dynamics resulting from the CS implementation process. For many companies which started from a CS perspective, the moulding process of the corporate culture has matured and the leader has taken a step back trusting his employees to have enhanced the corporate values and to be capable of acting within the set vision. By using strategic ambiguity, they create a feeling of psychological safety which makes employees less at risk when experimenting, creating more freedom for creativity and innovations. For companies that did not start from a CS perspective it is observed that the corporate culture needs strong leader centred guidance to enable and establish cultural change for a longer period of time. Habits need to be broken and employees need to be convinced of the new vision which takes more dedication and effort of a leader than when a company starts from a CS perspective and the leader can simply recruit people that fit within the vision. For guidance on how the social dynamics can be optimized a list of 9 corporate cultural change enablers was derived. The study is based on a very limited amount of literature and thereby the found results are by no means well substantiated. However, it forms a good first exploration of the social dynamics that might be of influence in optimizing social dynamics in the CS implementation process.